As the No. 5 seed playing a No. 12, Oklahoma is the favorite to advance past North Dakota State in Thursday’s second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
But the Sooners were well aware when the Bison were the consensus pick to upset OU when ESPN personalities made their predictions Sunday evening.
“They’re not favoring us,” sophomore guard Buddy Hield said. “We just gotta go out there and fight. We can’t worry about what they say, because they’re not playing. Go out there and do our job and prove them wrong.”
Maybe that’s the mentality that the Sooners need.
OU coach Lon Kruger said his team performed better when playing the spoiler.
“No question, when you look at our play we haven’t handled the favorites role as well as we have the underdogs role,” Kruger said. “We need to prepare as if we’re the underdog I guess. That’s always safer.
“Our guys understand how good North Dakota State is.”
NEAL TAKES ON ROLE OF BRAUN
Oklahoma senior forward Tyler Neal is playing the role of North Dakota State’s Taylor Braun in practice this week.
“They’re similar,” Kruger said. “Tyler’s maybe a similar size, if not a little bigger and thicker.”
Braun is the Bison’s leading scorer, averaging 18.2 points per game.
Neal also figures to spend some time guarding Braun.
“When you’re on that scout time, you kind of get a first-hand of seeing their plays drawn up on the board as opposed to just seeing it on film,” Neal said. “You kind of get to experience it and be in it. That’s definitely helpful, too.”